By David Oberly
When I was sixteen, a high school classmate and I were fishing in a strip on the outskirts of Pittsburg, KS. We were using Zebco rods and reels. (Very high class, huh!) I had two lures with me. One was red and white with a little propeller in front and two small trebble hooks attached. The other one was a torpedo shapped, black and white striped, hand made lure that had been hand crafted by an old coal miner who used to work with my father. My friend had two brand new lures that his father bought for him.
We were both bragging about our skills as fishermen, and about our equipment. My fishing experience up to about a month before this had been solely using a cane pole with parachute cord for a line, with a sinker, cork and hook. Bait consisted of worms, frogs, grasshoppers, or cheese. My father, brother, and myself had supplied our family with fish and game during the late 40's and early 50's. Times were tough and what we caught or shot was our main meat for meals. What I am saying is that when it came to using a rod and reel, I was a dumb shit.
My friend and myself were walking along the pit and casting and chatting away about what big fish were in this strip pit. We were trying to cast across the pit to a hollow made by a willow tree with branches hanging in the water.
"That is the kind of place were the big bass lurch", my friend said.
"Bet I can cast in there", I replied to him.
We both cast several times. I almost lost my black and white lure in the tree limbs. He did loose on of his when it hit about three feet above the water and tangled. He pulled and reeled until finally the line snapped and his lure hung, shinning in the tree. I decided to try a few more times while he tied his other lure to the line.
I took the black and white lure off the line an put on the red and white one on.
"This is what that old bastard is waiting for", I told my friend.
I cast the lure toward the opening. It hit the tip of one limb and went about three feet into the opening. I started to reel the lure in when the water exploded.
"Set hook! Set the hook!," he was screaming. He dropped his rod and reel and started jumping up and down, and bouncing on one side on me, then behind me, then on the other side of me.
I had jerked the rod and started to reel in, but it didn't feel like anything was on the line.
"Aw, shit! Ya lost him ya dumb ass."
Splash! Out of the water he came. Tail slapping the water and his head jerking back and forth as he tried to shake the lure. I started reeling, but the reel was ratcheting as I turned faster. He broke water again about 20 feet in front of us.
"Don't lose him. Ya gotta bring the bastard in".
Neither one of us had a net or a stringer. We apparently hadn't been confident enough in our abilities, or were just plain stupid. I think the later was the case for me.
I managed to get him close enough to grab the line and pull him out of the water.
"Jesus! Look at that big bastard! God damn! He's biggern' I ever seen!"
We were about 3/4 of a mile from the nearest road, and on foot. We started talking about getting him weighed and showing him to everyone we could think of. Harold Ensley's name came up. He had a fishing show every week on local television.
We finally managed to get to a gas station whose owner fished a lot. He had a fish scale and he weight the largemouth bass for us.
"Seven pounds, 7 ounces," he said.
That is the largest bass I have ever caught in my life.
This entire story has a purpose.
When I saw the mailman put a package in my mailbox today, I hurried out to see what it was. I had a gut feeling it was from you, but the spousal unit had order some things also. Sure enough it had my name on it. I had the same feeling walking back to the house as I did that day when I hooked my first big bass.
When I opened the package and finally got to the pipe, I thought to myself--Your a big boy now. I finally have a work of art that was not made by a machine. For me, this is that big bass and I will enjoy it for the rest of my life.
Thank you Mark for your artistic talent. I have already had one smoke in it. Navy Flake that a new friend had sent to me.
I am the one on the left, The man in the middle
is Winston S. Churchill, grandson of Sir Winston S. Churchill. The man on
the far right is Commander Mark J. Oberley, my second son, who had just
assumed command of the USS Winston S. Churchill, DDG81.
David's Pipe: 2008 ASP Pipe of the Year in Naked Coral